Sometimes, though, their concerns converge. Here's a bit from Ellroy's White Jazz, with the forewarning that this passage is written in the style of a 1958 Los Angeles scandal sheet, with the L.A. City Council about to uproot poor Mexicans to make room for the Dodgers' new baseball stadium:
"Diggsville: The California State Bureau of Land and Way is granting shack dwellers $10,500 per family relocation expenses, roughly 1/2 the cost of a slipshod, slapdash slum pad in such colorful locales as Watts, Willowbrook and Boyle Heights. The Bureau is also enterprisingly examining dervishly developed dump dives preferred by rapaciously rapid real estate developers: would-be Taco Terraces and Enchilada Estates where Burrito Bandits bounced from shamefully sheltered Chavez Ravine could live in jerry-rigged slum splendor, frolicking to fleabag firetrap fandangos!" (Boldface is mine.)And here's a bit from Manotti's unsubtly titled short story "Ethnic Cleansing" from the Paris Noir collection published by Serpent's Tail:
"By 6 a.m., in the building where the fire's still smouldering, only a few bodies are left, along with the fire-fighters still battling the flames and drowning what's left of the squat under gallons of water. According to the police bulletin, 123 people were living in this squat, seven are dead and fifteen others injured ... 101 people are in the municipal sports centre where identity checks are being carried out. The plan is to escort any illegal immigrants to the border and rehouse those whose papers are in order. The investigation should establish whether the fire is of criminal or accidental origin.
"TWO YEARS LATER
"A twelve-story steel and glass structure hugs the curve of the A86 motorway slip road ... The tragedy that took place here two years ago is on everyone's mind, he was thinking. Granted, the police investigation concluded it was an accident following a fight between dealers who had broken into the basement of the squat ... Granted, the city council rehoused all the legal immigrants. But not locally, not together, a long way from Paris ... "
Not so different from the Ellroy, is it?
© Peter Rozovsky 2010